People have one thing in common nowadays: they want instant gratification. If you want a cookie, you want a triple fudge chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with moon shadows and angel tears, and double dipped in a vat of vanilla chocolate symphony ice cream. And guess what? You want it now. You know why? Because, chances are, there’s a bakery just around the corner that sells one of these masterpieces.
The same concept applies for web design and creation. Why go to the trouble of sourcing something that does 1 job when you can get an amazing tool that does 100 things in 1, and is simple, clean and easy to install?
Nowadays, you don’t have to sit typing lines of code and squinting into the early hours of the morning to get the concept you want on your webpage. Thanks to WordPress, and it’s host of plugins, you can get what you want with minimal input.
That’s where Gravity Forms comes in. It’s the pinnacle of all that’s right with WordPress. The creators of this bad boy put so much thought into their product, that there are literally 100′s of ways to use Gravity Forms – we’ll check out about 9.
Whilst it was initially created as a form generator for your site, it’s evolved into a behemoth of a a web tool without the hassle of insane amounts of maintenance on the user’s part. It’s clean, simple, easy to install and is perhaps the business solution a lot of people are looking for.
On the other hand, it’s going to cost you a tidy sum if you want to enable it on more than one WordPress site. To be fair, there are many other form creation plugins on the market – and most are free – but Gravity Forms does more than just one job. However, before we jump on the Judgin’ Express (toot toot) we should take a look at the actual functions of this plugin and figure out whether it’s actually worth the initial payment of $199. After that, it’s all yours – unless you want ongoing support and updates. Luckily, as a reader pointed out, on time license renewals are discounted – 25% for the personal package and 50% for the business and developer packages – and as a result the second year’s updates and support will cost you less.
So, let’s do just that.
1. Order Forms
If you run a business and have a basis of online clientele, you’ll need a method for your customers to order products . Gravity Forms provides an Order From creation option in the package, which is easy to set up and has multiple functions. The great thing about it, is that it provides customers with an easy layout of drop down menus and boxes for selecting the product they want to purchase.
These Order Forms are very easy to set up and come with a few options:
- Product Fields – you can set your products here and insert their respective prices. Say you’re selling ballerina figurines, you’d type in the names of all the different figurines you have.
- Options Fields – do your figurines come in different shapes or colors? You can input this information here, and allow your customers to choose from the options when ordering. They can be set to impact the price.
- Shipping Methods – this allows your shoppers to input their desired shipping info. These options are predefined and can impact the price of the product according to what they select.
- Totals Fields – if your customer purchases more than one ballerina figurine – lucky you – the plugin will add up the cost and present a total.
- Paypal Add-ons – we’ll get to this one in the Payment Collection section, but bascially this add on allows your customers to ‘check out’ and pay you easily via Paypal.
2. Payment Collection
In order to benefit from any kind of online purchase, you’re going to need a method of payment collection. Gravity Forms provides that with a series of payment add-ons. Here’s the catch: you need to buy the Developer package ($199) to benefit from these without any extra cost. But, if you work it out, that’s only $16.6 per month, and there are more than just payment collection add-ons (see #10 for more on this). But this package is a once-off payment, and quite a bargain considering you can used this add-on for years to come.
So, here are your options:
- PayPal Payments Standard – this allows your customers to purchase products from you through logging into their own PayPal account (securely, of course) and accessing their funds. As mentioned, it’s easy to attach to your order forms.
- PayPal Payments Pro – it doesn’t get much better than this. This allows your customers to buy products from your site without having to sign into their PayPal account on the actual PayPal site. It’s direct money, baby!
- PayPal Pro – is for those who have the old PayPal Pro API. It basically does the same thing as the PayPal Payments Pro add-on, but is the ‘older’ version.
- Authorize.NET – allows customers to pay with their credit cards without any 3rd party interactions.
3. Contracts + Agreements
Gravity Forms is a very versatile plugin. Because of the setup of fields and the options to edit and customize those fields, it’s possible to create unique contracts and agreements. Because of the add-ons, Gravity Forms has introduced a whole new set of capabilities for configuring forms in manageable and reproducible ways.
It’s possible to:
- Create a contract or agreement and have an individual simply fill in the blanks.
- Have that individual sign the contract with the digital signature add-on. This works with touch screen devices and allows people to physically sign your form.
- The format of the agreement is neat and comprehensive, and can be submitted to ‘Conditional Logic’. This is a fantastic little tool which remembers user selections and configures your form according to that.
- Email the form (or a copy thereof) to multiple recipients.
- Create a PDF copy with the PDF Extended tool.
4. Job Application Forms
It’s not called Gravity Forms (note the ‘s’) for nothing. You can create an almost endless list of forms if you combine the add-ons and functions in different ways. Perhaps you’re looking for a freelance writer, graphic designer or even a VA to join your team? Well, it’s relatively easy to create a job application form for potential employees. Here’s why:
- You can create a form with fields for your potential employees to fill in – fields are easy to customize
- It’s possible to create a form and then use the Conditional Logic tool to hone in on a series of questions which will separate the wheat from the chaff
- You can register applicants and keep them in your database for future reference. We’ll discuss that add-on under magical #10.
- Any potential employees can upload files to the form you’ve created – such as a resume or sample of their work.
5. PDF Extended
I’ve mentioned this tool already, but it needs it’s own little section because of it’s versatility. What it does, is produce very professional looking PDF documents out of the forms you create using Gravity Forms. You can then edit these PDFs and send different copies to different kinds of people. I.e. One copy including all the details in the original form – for staff – and another with limited details – for clients or customers.
Having the ability to create professional PDFs from any form you make, provides the opportunity to create professional invoices, employee information printouts, contracts and agreements, printed order sheets and lots more.
check it out at http://gravityformspdfextended.com (it’s FREE!)
Creating questionnaires and surveys is a brilliant method for assessing what kind of market you have and what your brand should be. By monitoring the answers your potential customers or viewers give, you can garner valuable insight into their worlds, and what they’re looking for from you.
There are plenty of tools, apps and templates for surveys online (like the ever popular Survey Monkey) but Gravity Forms provides a survey add-on for those who choose the Developer package.
With the summary add-on it’s possible to:
- Interact with site visitors and pose questions which suss out their needs
- Garner information on trends with the use of the survey results – you can view these in aggregates and uses filters to compare the data in different ways
- Add the Survey Field to your form as you would any other form, and then customize the Survey’s questions and options to your liking
7. Internal Reporting
Surveying employees is a great way for placing your finger on the pulse of the office. That’s why it’s possible to do internal reporting with Gravity Forms. You can do anything from evaluations, to Key Performance Indicators, to Feedback forms. Here’s how:
- You can create a report form with input fields which employees fill in and submit.
- Gravity Forms has a notification feature which allows you to notify other members of the staff about the form, and have them fill it in. The great thing about that, is that you can select certain segments of the form and send it to the applicable departments.
- Couple this with the PDF Extended tool, and you can create a professional form
- You could also send reports in PDF form to your clients with this same method.
This kind of professional reporting is always in use in business interactions, and is without limits on Gravity Forms. You can create anything from a service feedback report for your clients to an internal report or survey on employee satisfaction.
8. Email Receptionist Contact Form
This allows you to direct all the contact forms which are filled in to the relevant person. You can use conditional logic to have certain forms (feedback etc) routed to the right receptionist.
It’s basically like a Virtual Assistant without the hourly rate and backchat. And it doesn’t actually require any coding at all. It’s also possible to set up replies to certain types of emails according to the recipient’s selected option.
This really takes the struggle out of sifting through the slush pile of business emails. It files all the forms and shoots them off in all the right directions.
9. User Generated Posts
This is yet another example of how powerful WordPress is as a blogging platform. Using Gravity Forms you can create restaurant or product reviews. You could center an entire site around them. User generated posts are awesome because:
- They allow users to submit reviews, ratings and comments.
- They allows users to publish these comments live
- They allow users to create a database of information with minimal input from the owner of the site
- The owner still has administrative control over his/her site
Allowing this kind of input on a site gives validity to it’s information and offers an interesting insight into the kind of traffic and clientele you have.
10. Nifty Add-Ons
And it doesn’t end there! Here are the add-ons available with Gravity Forms:
- Authorize.NET – allows customers to pay via credit card, and can be configured for repayments.
- AWeber – adds subsribers to an email marketing list when a form is submitted. A powerful marketing tool for businesses
- Campaign Monitor – monitors the email marketing list and the emails you send.
- Coupons – create redeemable coupons and control their expiry date and usage terms.
- Mail Chimp – another email marketing list add-on.
- Freshbooks – turns Gravity Form submissions into invoices or estimates.
- PayPal Payments Standard – allows your customers to purchase products through a redirect to the PayPal homepage.
- PayPal Payments Pro – allows your customers to purchase products without any redirects.
- PayPal Pro – the same as above but for those with an older API.
- Picatcha – an image-based CAPTCHA creator to keep the bots at bay.
- Polls – adds poll questions and polls to any post on your website.
- Quiz – adds a quiz yo your website which is scored on submission.
- Signature – have your clients or employees physically sign your documents.
- Survey – set up surveys of employees or customers with ease.
- Twilio – sends SMS notifications to your cellphone when an order form, payment or form is submitted.
- User Registration – allows you to register users and keep their information in your database.
- Zapier – a powerful add-on which allows you to integrate GF with anything from Gmail to Basecamp.
- Conditional Logic – this sparkling gem analyses what your users input and adjusts what they see according to that information.
The truth about Gravity Forms is that it’s pretty darn expensive in comparison to it’s fellow plugins. BUT – and this is a big ol’ but – it has so many add-ons and options that you’ll be able to use it in multiple business applications.
It’s also highly customizable according to theme and your CSS needs. It’s like the big daddy of all form tools. My only irritation is that you have to buy the full Developer package in order to benefit from all the add-ons. But, if you look at the price difference between the Business ($99) and Developer($199) packages, and the added functions that come with the latter, I think it’s a deal I can get behind.
Let us know how you use Gravity Forms in your business in the comments below: